Pupils welcome special guests to opening of new school building at Silsoe

Silsoe VC Lower School
Silsoe VC Lower School

Pupils, staff and governors at Silsoe VC Lower School were joined by a host of invited guests to celebrate the official opening of their new building.

The school transferred from its former site in High Street, Silsoe, to a purpose-built new building in Chestnut Avenue, at the beginning of the year.

Silsoe VC Lower School

Silsoe VC Lower School

A service took place on Thursday, May 18, to officially open and dedicate the new building.

The service was led by the Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, who said two special prayers – one of thanksgiving and one of dedication – and the school’s local vicar, the Rev Dave Bell.

It was followed by a ceremony outside with Dr Smith and Rev Bell laying a plaque in the welcome pathway outside alongside the names of the school’s supporters and former pupils.

Joining members of the school at the event were Silsoe Lower School’s three former headteachers, as well as headteachers from across the area, councillors and officers from Central Bedfordshire Council including chairman Cllr David Bowater in his final official engagement in the ceremonial role.

The new school building has places for 300 pupils, up from the 135 children who could be accommodated in the High Street building, with a pre-school also on the new site.

Victor Wan, the council’s Head of School Organisation, Admissions and Capital Planning, said: “Our New School Places scheme is about creating additional places in areas of demand like Silsoe so that children can go to a good local school on their doorstep.

“In some cases that means expanding existing schools, but here we have had the opportunity to create a fantastic new building which is already proving incredibly popular with pupils and staff – as well as allowing the school to admit more than double its previous intake.

“It’s clear that pupils love their new surroundings and are thriving here – and I know that future pupils will benefit from being able to attend such a great new school too.”

Susan Purdue, headteacher at Silsoe VC Lower School, told the audience at the dedication service: “We are here to say thank you to everyone who has helped to plan, build and resource this beautiful place to work and to learn. We are fortunate to have such a fantastic school and such a special community. And the fact that all of these people are here with us today is wonderful.

“This is the fourth school there has been in the village and I think that God has been with the children here and the community every step of the way. God has been with us on our journey to expand and build our new school, and I know that he is with us now. That’s very important for us as a church school.”

The expansion project is part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s New School Places scheme, creating more than 6,500 additional places over a five-year period to 2017, with work on this project carried out by Ashe Construction.

For more information about the New School Places programme, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/school/organisation/programme.aspx